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Full text of "The things Methodists believe"

THE 



Things Methodists 
Believe 



By 

T. H. LIPSCOMB, B.D. 



SECOND THOUSAND. 



Nashville, Tenn. ; Dallas, Tex. ; Richmond, Va. 

Publishing House M. B. Church, South 

Smith & Lamar, Agents 

1915 



CONTENTS. 



The Things Methodists Believe Page. 

I. In Common with All Christians 5 

II. As Distinct from What Baptists Believe. . . 11 

III. As Distinct from What Presbyterians Believe. 15 

IV. As Distinct from What Episcopalians Believe. 18 
V. As Distinct from What Roman Catholics Be- 
lieve . . . . , ... 20 

VI. As Distinct from All Others 22 

Conclusion 25 

(?) 



THE THINGS METHODISTS BELIEVE. 



I. In Common with All Christians. 

It is certainly a condition greatly to be desired 
that Methodists, and members of all Churches, indeed, 
should be well informed as to the teachings of their 
Church, and of the points wherein they both agree 
and differ with other Churches which surround them. 
The need of some simple statement, serviceable to 
this end — inexpensive, concise, for distribution among 
Methodists — has been recognized by pastors and em- 
phasized in portions of our Church press for some 
time. Individual members also have expressed a de- 
sire for something which would clearly set before 
them where they stand, and give them a reason for 
the faith that is in them. Yet nothing exactly meet- 
ing this need has been found available. 

So the plan suggested itself of briefly setting forth 
what Methodists believe (1) in common with all 
Christians; (2) as distinct from what Baptists be- 
lieve; (3) as distinct from what Presbyterians be- 
lieve; (4) as distinct from what Episcopalians be- 
lieve; (5) as distinct from what Roman Catholics 

believe; (6) as distinct from all others. 

(5) 



6 The Things Methodists Believe. 

First, then, what are the things Methodists believe 
in common with all Christians? It will perhaps be 
surprising to some who are forever talking about 
"the divisions of Christendom" to find how really 
united we are upon all of the great fundamentals, 
including everything essential to a godly life and sal- 
vation. We have sought in the statement which fol- 
lows to avoid every word which suggests denomina- 
tional bias, and to prepare a statement which Meth- 
odists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Cath- 
olics, and all orthodox Christians, indeed, might as- 
sent to as an expression of their fundamental faith; 
reserving, however, the right to make such additions 
as their convictions might necessitate — e. g., limiting 
the atonement, or making it specifically universal, 
making more numerous the sacraments, or being more 
specific as to modes of administration, orders, etc. 

Upon the truths that follow we believe the Chris- 
tian world has ever been agreed. However, we make 
no pretensions of writing a creed for the Churches; 
we are writing only a tract for the times. 

A Statement of Christian Faith. 
1. Concerning God. 
We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of 
heaven and earth, "who in perfect wisdom, holiness, 
and love pervades, sustains, and rules the world 
which he has made." 
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who 



The Things Methodists Believe. 7 

was in glory with the Father before all worlds, and 
who, in the infinite love of the Father and the Son, 
for us men and our salvation, counted not his divine 
glory a prize to be selfishly held fast, but emptied 
himself and became partaker of man's nature; was 
conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin 
Mary; revealed in one holy life God to men and how 
men should live to God; died the just for the unjust, 
as an atonement for sin; rose again from the dead 
the third day; and by his life, death, and resurrection 
established a way by which men may obtain forgive- 
ness of sins, purity of heart, and blessedness forever. 

And in the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father 
and the Son, very and eternal God, by whose opera- 
tion on men dead in trespasses and sin they are 
quickened to repentance, faith, and loving obedience, 
and are made partakers of the divine nature. 

2. Concerning the Scriptures. 

That these truths concerning God the Father, God 
the Son, and God the Holy Ghost are revealed to us 
in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testa- 
ments, written by holy men of old as they were moved 
by the Holy Ghost, and given by God to be to man 
for all time a full and sufficient revelation of all 
things pertaining to God, man, duty, and destiny 
needful for faith and practice; that the Holy Spirit 
enables men to apprehend these truths as they search 
the Scriptures in humility. 
1* 



8 The Things Methopists Believe. 

3. Of Man's Sin. 
We believe that man was created originally in the 
image of God, with intellect, sensibility and will, and 
a moral nature pure and capable of having been 
maintained so by a constant choice of the good in 
obedience to God; but that through distrust of God, 
expressing itself in disobedience to him, man fell 
from this holy estate, and the moral image of God 
was destroyed in him, whereby he "is very far gone 
from original righteousness, and of his own nature 
inclined to evil, and that continually." 

h. God's Grace. 
That were it not for the grace of God, revealed in 
Christ, there would be no impulse now in any heart 
to turn again to God and righteousness; but that 
through this grace of God, revealed in Christ, God 
seeks and has been seeking through all time to draw 
men again unto himself, restoring in them his lost 
image, and fitting them for yet partaking of that 
blessedness and fellowship which he designed for 
them in their creation. 

5. Man's Freedom. 
That man may respond to or resist this grace of 
God, freedom of choice being an essential attribute 
of his nature, which God himself could not fail to 
regard without destroying his personality and the 
possibility of any real virtue. To force goodness 
upon man would be to destroy the possibility of good- 



The Things Methodists Believe. 9 

ness for man, except as the sheep is good and the 

lily pure. 

6. Of Salvation. 

That, where there is response on the part of man 
to this divine impulse, he comes to hate iniquity and 
love righteousness, to recognize the defilement of his 
own nature, the power of sin in his life, and his need 
of a Deliverer; and that, trusting in Jesus Christ as 
the world's Redeemer and his Saviour, he finds peace 
with God and spiritual renewal. "Wherefore that 
we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome 
doctrine, and very full of comfort." 

7. Of Damnation. 

That, where there is resistance of man to this 
drawing of God, those doing so reveal themselves 
thereby as at enmity with God and righteousness 
and rebels in his universe. Where such resistance is 
persisted in it can only result in the everlasting 
banishment of that soul from God, in misery and 
woe, as is plainly set forth in the Scriptures. 

8. Obedience. 

That it is incumbent upon all those who have been 
restored through faith in Jesus Christ to God's fel- 
lowship and favor to order their lives in obedience 
to God's Word, following the example of their Lord 
and Saviour who did no sin, and who went about 
doing good. 



10 The Things Methodists Believe. 

9. The Church. 
"That the regenerate are the true Church, to which, 
among other sacred obligations, is committed the 
task (in the power of the Holy Ghost) of transform- 
ing the world morally and socially into the kingdor 

of God." 

10. The Sacraments. 

That the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Sup- 
per were instituted by Christ "not only as badges or 
tokens of Christian men's profession, but B also as 
signs of grace, by the which he doth work invisibly 
in us, and doth not only quicken but also strengthen 
and confirm our faith in him." 

Baptism with water in the name of the Father, and 
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is commanded by 
Christ, and is a sign of regeneration or the new 
birth. 

The Lord's Supper, a partaking of bread and wine 
together, is not only a sign of the love that Chris- 
tians ought to have among themselves one to an- 
other, but also is a sacrament of our redemption by 
Christ's death and a memorial thereof till he come. 

11. The Judgment. 
That Christ shall come again in glory at the end 
of the world to judge the world in righteousness; 
that there shall then be a resurrection of all men 
from the dead, to receive final awards, according to 
the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or 
whether they be evil. 



The Things Methodists Believe. 11 

12. The State. 
That, as respects civil affairs, it is as truly the duty 
of every Christian to "render unto Caesar the things 
that are Caesar's" as "unto God the things that are 
God's." 

II. As Distinct from What Baptists Believe. 

1. That pouring, sprinkling, and immersion are 
all scripturally proper modes of baptism, and that in- 
sistence upon baptism by immersion only is an em- 
phasis, contrary to the spirit of the New Testament 
and unjustified in the New Testament, upon the mere- 
ly outward mode of symbolizing an inward grace. 
While all Christians agree that Christ commands 
baptism, using water "in the name of the Father, and 
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," yet we emphati- 
cally deny that he specified a mode, and that immersion 
is essential to obedience. Those as truly "obey Christ 
in baptism" who, confessing him as Lord and Saviour, 
are baptized by pouring or sprinkling (the Bible is 
full of allusions to these as symbolizing cleansing) 
as do those who are baptized by immersion. They 
have, further, the advantage of being less likely to 
make their faith center around and in the observance 
of a mere outward rite than are those who give to 
the mode such overshadowing emphasis. 

2. That its ministers, and the ministers of all de- 
nominations, who are called of God to this holy of- 
fice, are as truly ministers of Jesus Christ as are those 



12 The Things Methodists Believe. 

ordained by the Baptist Church, and when so author- 
ized by their respective Churches are as truly empow- 
ered to administer the sacraments, and these sacra- 
ments of baptism and the Lord's Supper are as valid 
when administered by them as by a Baptist preacher. 
The claim of the Baptist Church to these rights exclu- 
sively, and the rejection by them of even immersion 
when administered by a preacher not of their com- 
munion, Methodists look upon as an assumption of 
exclusive rights in the kingdom of God unparalleled 
(even Roman Catholics admit the validity of alien 
baptism), and which the Christian charity and 
catholicity of other Christian ministers and Church- 
es must pardon and be brotherly still. 

3. That there is no justification in the New Testa- 
ment; further, that it is contrary to the spirit of 
Christian unity constantly enjoined by Christ to 
exclude from the sacrament of the Lord's Supper 
those who would come in reverence and faith, merely 
because they differ in conviction as to matters of out- 
ward administration. That to do so is to manifest 
the spirit of the sons of Zebedee, whom Christ re- 
buked for their exclusiveness. 

Such doctrines, both as regarding ministerial rights, 
baptism, and the Lord's Supper, it is painful even to 
state, and to be rejected they need but to be known. 
They will certainly one day have to be discarded even 
by Baptists themselves, when Christ crowns as Ms 
own ministers and men of all faiths, baptized by all 



The Things Methodists Believe. 13 

modes, and when he invites all alike to sit down to- 
gether to the marriage supper of the Lamb. 

4. Methodists hold further, as distinct from Bap- 
tists, that, having once entered into a state of grace, 
it is possible to fall therefrom. The same free choice 
through which one becomes united to Christ remains 
after conversion, and it is man's melancholy preroga- 
tive to depart from God through spiritual neglect or 
through sinful indulgence. This is written large upon 
the pages of Scripture, the most explicit statements 
of it possible being given at length (as in Ezekiel 
xviii. 24-32, xxxiii. 12-18), and the constant exhor- 
tations to watchfulness, to prayerfulness, to keep the 
body under lest we ourselves (even St. Paul) should 
be cast away — all are in evidence of the possibility of 
apostasy, not only of drawing back, but of "drawing 
back unto perdition," as is specifically stated time 
and again. To answer that those whose "lamps were 
gone out" never had any oil, or that those that work 
iniquity will be saved despite the fact that the con- 
trary is specifically stated in the Scriptures, is the 
argument of one desperate in defeat. 

5. Lastly, as distinct from Baptists, Methodists be- 
lieve, with Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Congrega- 
tionalists, Lutherans, Roman and Greek Catholics — in 
fact, with forty-nine fiftieths of Christendom — in the 
baptism of infants. As of old they brought "their 
babes" to Jesus, as the Greek word indicates (Luke 
%v\ii. 15), so we still bring ours, assured that the Mas- 



14 The Things Methodists Believe. 

ter approves and blesses them and rebukes those who 
rebuke us. And as baptism is the symbol of acceptance 
and grace and blessing, we baptize them, admitting 
that they cannot understand, but assured that bring- 
ing our children thus into covenant relations with 
God and taking upon ourselves the obligation of 
teaching them the meaning of the rite and the truths 
of our holy religion, hoping and praying that they 
may embrace them and ratify our action in later 
years, has behind it the scriptural precedent of cir- 
cumcision, commanded of God throughout Hebrew his- 
tory—the words of Christ as he said, "Suffer the little 
children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for 
of such is the kingdom of heaven;" several instances 
of "household" baptisms, which imply the baptism of 
infants, and the practice of the Christian Church 
from the earliest centuries. Certainly if pouring 
or sprinkling is not baptism, nor the baptism of 
infants, we face the anomaly of heaven full of un- 
baptized persons, for an overwhelming majority of 
Christians in every age have been baptized in no 
other manner. 

6. As to Church government, it is well known that 
Methodists have always followed and prefer in the 
United States an episcopal form of government, as 
being both scriptural and effective; comparable not 
to a monarchy, as is sometimes claimed, but to such 
a republic as we live in, with men elected to office 
and to membership in Conferences, and they exercis- 



The Things Methodists Believe. 15 

ing such appointive or legislative powers as have 
thereby been conferred upon them. The Baptists 
maintain a democracy so absolute as to be almost 
without a parallel in history, each local Church re- 
fusing to allow any delegated and representative 
body to legislate for it. 

III. As Distinct from What Presbyterians Believe. 

1. That Christ died for all mankind and not for 
the elect only, and that he draws all men by his 
Spirit with what may be an effectual calling, if they 
will only respond thereto. That an unconditional 
foreordination and election of some to everlasting 
life, and foreordination of others to everlasting pun- 
ishment by withholding from them an effectual call, 
is a limitation of the atonement and of the love and 
mercy of God, unjustified by the scriptural revelation 
which God gives to us of himself and of his Son. We 
believe, too, that to hold such is to place the blame 
for sin and neglect of salvation not upon the sinner, 
but upon God, who withholds from him those spir- 
itual aspirations and impulses which alone would en- 
able him to repent and believe. 

2. As to Divine Sovereignty, we believe that God 
had a purpose and design in creation, and that this 
purpose and design he is seeking to work out in 
human history; that his purpose and design for every 
man is good, but that through freedom man may, and 
often has and does, frustrate and make impossible 



16 The Things Methodists Believe. 

the fulfillment of all these gracious purposes through 
willful disobedience and rebellion. To teach other- 
wise seems to us to make God the author of sin, and 
makes the wickedness of earth and the misery of hell, 
alike with the glory of heaven, that which he desired, 
designed, decreed, and brought to pass. We know 
of no finer statement of what Methodists believe on 
this subject than . the following extract from "The 
Christian Faith," by Dr. Olin A. Curtis: "Let us now 
try to look at the final universe from God's point of 
view. His final universe will not be what he most 
profoundly wanted; it will not be his ideal realized. 
God wanted a final universe comprehending every 
moral person created, all these created persons in a 
voluntary service of holy purport, and all this eternal 
service resplendent and enraptured wUh the holy 
vision of God. . . But God saw his ideal plan 
in wreck through the very freedom absolutely neces- 
sary to its actualization. Sin has destroyed 
the possibility of our finest eternity. Sin will 
not be triumphant; but sin has infringed the dream, 
has placed the glory of the outcome in everlast- 
ing check." If it is objected that such is to de- 
stroy the sovereignty of God, we answer: Not so; it 
was his sovereign will which made us free, and his 
sovereign power will at last put all enemies under 
his feet. He cannot and should not force men to do 
bis will, but he can and should and will condemn 
them when they stubbornly refuse. "All evil in pos- 



The Things Methodists Belikvk. 17 

sibility was the awful price God had to pay for any 
personal sainthood." 

3. The final perseverance of the saints, a doctrine 
logically following the conception of God's sover- 
eignty as held by Presbyterians, Methodists cannot 
accept either on rational or on scriptural grounds. 
For it implies that with conversion human freedom 
ceases; that God has got you and he is going to 
hold you, whether you will or not. Such we believe 
to be unreasonable and unscriptural, both the Old 
Testament and the New Testament being full of 
passages to the effect that, though 

"The soul that on Jesus still leans for repose 
He will not, he will not desert to its foes," 

yet ve may forsake him even after having been once 
enlightened and been made partakers of the Holy 
Ghost (Heb. vi. 4-6), and that "the last state of that 
man is worse than the first" (Luke xi. 26). For 
"it had been better for them not to have known the 
way of righteousness, than, after they have known 
it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered 
unto them." (2 Pet. ii. 21, 22.) 

4. As to regeneration, Presbyterians are more in- 
definite in their teaching than are most Christian 
bodies, though they strongly hold to the necessity of 
regenerating grace for salvation. But whether the 
seeds both of repentance and faith are implanted in 
the hearts of elect infants by the secret operation of 



18 The Things Methodists Believe. 

the Spirit, as some have taught, or whether this takes 
place in later years, is a point on which the Church 
is silent. Methodists have never taught regenera- 
tion in infancy, hut that regeneration in the full 
Christian sense takes place only as, in conscious need, 
the soul cleaves to Christ as a personal Saviour. All 
agree, however, that the Holy Spirit begins his work 
in earliest years; to be continued as the child grows 
and is instructed until it comes, unless disobedient, 
to a full and conscious experience of salvation 
through personal faith. 

5. As to Church government, Presbyterians differ 
from Methodists in rejecting the episcopal mode of 
government, though they delegate legislative and 
judicial powers to Presbyteries, Synods, and General 
Assemblies to a degree far in excess of that conceded 
by Baptists. They recognize also the ministerial 
rights and offices of other Churches. 

IV. A. DUtinct from What Episcopalians Believe. 

1. As to apostolic succession, Episcopalians main- 
tain that their ministry has been empowered to exer- 
cise the functions thereof by the laying on of hands 
of bishops in succession from the apostles them- 
selves, though it is very generally admitted that no 
such unbroken succession can be traced. They 
therefore, claim to be, to a degree excelling all others 
except Roman Catholics, empowered to exercise the 
office of the ministry and to be the Church of God- 



The Things Methodists Believe. 19 

not to the extent, however, to which the Baptists go, 
of denying the validity of baptism administered by 
the ministers of other communions, or of requiring 
that candidates be rebaptized. Methodists deny the 
validity of the claim to unbroken succession from the 
apostles, and its importance even if admitted. They 
maintain that true apostolic succession, acceptable 
to God, is partaking of the spirit of the apostles and 
carrying forward in faith and love, under the in- 
spiration of the Holy Ghost, the work which they 
began on earth. 

2. Episcopalians believe also, in an unqualified 
sense, in baptismal regeneration, and hold that bap- 
tism with water and renewal by the Holy Ghost are 
coincident. Consequently the baptized children of 
the Church they look upon as already saved, needing 
only instruction and confirmation as qualifying them 
for full membership. Methodists place greater em- 
phasis upon the need of a "change of heart" for all, 
after they come to years of accountability, and to a 
definite profession of faith on acceptance into Church 
membership. Consequently Episcopalians have never 
been as evangelical as Methodists either in doctrine 
or religious effort. 

3. Methodists deny that ministers to-day can rightly 
be termed "priests," as having neither the rights of 
offering sacrifice or forgiving sins, to which appella- 
tion Episcopalians hold. Except in high Church cir- 
cles, however, no sacrificial priestly function is ad- 



20 The Things Methodists Believe. 

mitted, and the rite of absolution is performed only 
in a qualified sense. The altar, symbolizing sacrifice, 
is retained in all Episcopalian churches, yet not as 
having thereon (as in Roman Catholic churches) the 
very body and blood of Christ; and before this altar 
the priest ministers, as in a spiritual sense mediating 
between God and the people. The use of vestments 
and of a more elaborate ritual is also an obvious, 
though not essential, difference between Methodists 
and Episcopalians. 

4. Methodists and Episcopalians agree in having an 
episcopal mode of government; though in the Epis- 
copal Church each bishop is limited in jurisdiction 
to a particular and permanent diocese, while in the 
Methodist Church they are elected as overseers of 
the Church at large, with such jurisdiction over dif- 
ferent portions of the Church from time to time as 
may seem best for the promotion of its welfare. 
Episcopal bishops possess no such appointive power 
over the clergy as do Methodist bishops. 

V. As Distinct from What Roman Catholics Believe. 

Catholics would, in general, agree on all points 
indicated at the beginning of this paper, as held 
by Methodists "in common with all Christians," 
though all along they would add matters of faith 
which Methodists and all Protestants reject. To the 
Holy Scriptures, as the rule of faith and practice, 
they would add the traditions of the Catholic Church 



The Things Methodists Believe. 21 

as of like validity. To the doctrines of man's fall 
and redemption through grace in Christ Jesus they 
would add — now in an undertone, formerly in un- 
mistakable terms — that this grace of God is mediated 
by and through the Roman Catholic Church only, 
which is the vicegerent of Christ upon earth, with 
the Pope as its infallible head. 

They hold that salvation is by both faith and 
works; that works of supererogation are possible; 
and that through the Church the excess of good 
works of the saints may be transmitted to the sinful. 
The piety of saints is also supposed to make their 
prayers of special avail with God; so prayers to 
the saints and to the Virgin Mary are permissible, 
seeking intercession through them. The worshiping 
and adoration of images and relics (with that portion 
of the Ten Commandments forbidding the making of 
graven images and bowing down to them left out of 
their Bible) is permitted and justified. 

To the two sacraments of baptism and the Lord's 
Supper they add five more — confirmation, penance, 
orders, matrimony, and extreme unction — and upon 
these sacraments great emphasis is placed. Baptism 
efficaciously works regeneration within all who are 
baptized; practically all are baptized in infancy; so 
the evangelical Christian doctrine of conversion is 
almost unknown. The priest in the Mass performs 
the priestly function of offering up, in the elevation 
of the host, time and again the sacrifice of Christ to 



22 The Things Methodists Believe. 

God, at which the people bow in worship of the host 
as God. Upon the congregation the priest pronounces 
absolution of sins, and at the Confessional in private— 
the priest thus standing between man and God, and 
the people approaching God and receiving blessings 
from him through the priest. So in extreme unc- 
tion, at the point of death, the priest, with olive oil 
consecrated by a bishop, anoints with much cere- 
mony and Latin quotations various parts of the body 
(eyes, ears, mouth, nose, feet, etc.), washing away 
sin, confirming the soul of the sick man, and assur- 
ing him of God's mercy. 

And even beyond the grave, to our doctrines of 
heaven and hell they add a doctrine of Purgatory 
in whose fires the souls of all imperfect Christians 
are to be purified and fitted for heaven. 

To all of which, including their forbidding of the 
clergy to marry, Methodists and Protestants in gen- 
eral reply, in the language of the Thirty-Nine Articles: 
"Such are fond things, vainly invented, and grounded 
upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant 
to the Word of God." 

VI. As Distinct from All Others. 

In point of emphasis Methodism has proclaimed 
the doctrine of "the witness of the Spirit," or the 
full assurance of faith as the rightful heritage of all 
believers, to a degree beyond any other Church; and 
especially was this true in her early history. Then 



The Things Methodists Believe. 23 

for any one to affirm, "I know my sins forgiven, and 
have the assurance that I am a child of God," was 
looked upon as presumption in the extreme; and much 
persecution of early Methodists was because they 
dared to affirm out of a conscious experience that 
they had found peace with God through our Lord 
Jesus Christ. It was not that such was believed 
impossible to saints, but that such gracious dispensa- 
tions were not permitted to ordinary mortals. In 
illustration, Samuel Wesley, the father of John and 
Charles, admitted, after Methodism arose, that for 
twenty-five years he had enjoyed the peace of God, 
but that he kept it secret as a special manifestation 
of divine grace to him. His last words were: "The 
inner witness, my son, the inner witness — that is the 
proof, the strongest proof, of Christianity." Meth- 
odism has brought the possibility of a conscious ex- 
perience of salvation by all believers to world-wide 
recognition; and the calling of men to seek and ob- 
tain this has been largely the secret of her power. 
Her emphasis has thus been upon experience and a 
renewed heart and life more than upon any doctrinal 
system or outward modes of administration. 

It has also been the glory of Methodism to proclaim 
and emphasize one doctrine as capable of actual 
realization which others have looked upon only as a 
Christian ideal beyond reach in this life — that is, the 
doctrine of Christian perfection, or entire sanctiflca- 
tion. Methodists have had the temerity to believe 



24 The Things Methodists Believe. 

that when Christ commanded, "Be ye therefore per- 
fect," "Be ye holy," "Thou shalt love the Lord thy 
God with all thy heart," he meant it; and he could 
not have meant it if he knew that he spoke of some- 
thing beyond attainment. So Methodism teaches that 
there is a state of grace attainable in this life in 
which purity, goodness, and love reign in the heart 
alone; that the tempers are all holy, the motives are 
all pure; and that this entire sanctification should be 
sought by all Christians. The early Methodists 
taught also that testimony in humility to having 
been delivered from all evil by the grace of God 
is appropriate in those possessing and maintaining 
this experience. It guarded this doctrine, however, 
against the objection that it places one beyond temp- 
tation by admitting that "the unclean spirit, though 
driven out, may return and enter again" unless kept 
out by constant watchfulness and prayer; the infer- 
ence that prayer for forgiveness is no longer neces- 
sary, by admitting that mistakes of judgment and un- 
conscious defections from the perfect law of God yet 
occur, making ever appropriate the prayer, "Forgive 
us our trespasses." 

Wesley exhorted his preachers to "preach Christian 
perfection constantly, strongly, explicitly/' "As soon 
as any of them find peace with God exhort them to 
'go on to perfection.' The more explicitly and strong- 
ly you press all believers to aspire after full sancti- 
fication as attainable now by simple faith, the more 



The Thimis Methodists Believe. 



2Z 



the whole work of God will prosper." The inspiring 
motto, indeed, of lyiethodism has been: "Full salva- 
tion — NOW."' 

God grant that she may never forsake her motto, 
or depart from her lofty purpose "to spread scrip- 
tural holiness throughout all lands!" 

Conclusion. 

Thus largely our Churches may be seen to agree, 
and yet widely we may be seen to differ. Emphasis 
on the points upon which we agree would seem to 
make possible a union of all Christendom upon these 
great and fundamental truths, which only are es- 
sential to salvation. Yet a mere statement of the 
points on which we differ makes it equally apparent 
that, though we be servants of one God, acknowledg- 
ing one Lord and Saviour, one law of righteousness, 
and one destiny of joy or woe forever as our deserts 
may be, yet organic and complete union is impossible 
even if desirable. A union of spirit, however, in con- 
stant recognition of our agreement on things essen- 
tial, and our equal right to be called children of God, 
Churches of God, and ministers of Jesus Christ, is 
surely possible. While believing firmly, it may be, 
that we each .are right in the points on which we 
differ, yet we may remember the subordinate charac- 
ter of these differences, and may cultivate that broad 
charity which forbids none because they follow not 
us, and which claims for ourselves no higher place 



26 The Things Methodists Believe. 

or greater part in the kingdom of God than we are 
willing to accord to others. Should we be tempted 
to do so, we may well remember the words of Jesus, 
"Many that are first shall be last, and the last first;" 
and, "They shall come from the east, and from the 
west, and from the north, and from the south, and 
shall sit down in the kingdom of God," to the infinite 
surprise and shame of those who have limited the 
grace of God and have magnified outward rites, 
confessions, names, or claims above "the thoughts 
and intents of the heart."